Ranunculus in the Spey: the source

I had 20 minutes to spare this morning on my way to a meeting so I stopped at the Auchernack Burn. The Auchernack Burn is regarded as the source of the invasive and troublesome Ranunculus which grows profusely in the Spey from the confluence of the burn downstream. Of course the hand of man was involved and it is rumoured to have spread from a garden pond in the 1970s.
I was interested to see if there was still Ranunculus present in the burn. It didn’t take long to confirm that there was; it was present in abundance wherever there was sufficient light.

Ranunculus in the Auchernack Burn upstream of Grantown

Ranunculus in the Auchernack Burn upstream of Grantown

The Auchernack Burn is heavily shaded in places by trees, little ranunculus grew in shaded parts of the burn. Where light levels were high Ranunculus was present.

The Auchernack Burn is heavily shaded in places by trees, little ranunculus grew in shaded parts of the burn.

Plans to investigate the feasibility of manual removal of Ranunculus from the upper section of the Spey mainstem have been discussed but maybe that approach should be tested in the Auchernack Burn first? Four people could probably clear the burn in a couple sessions wearing wellies. Monitoring the success or otherwise of manual removal would be straightforward in such a small burn.

In the meantime and in conjunction with the Dee and Don Trusts, SEPA and SNH we hope to trial the efficacy of the herbicide Roundup along with a sticking agent on Ranunculus in the River Don this summer. If successful we would hope in due course to develop protocols and secure licencing procedures for use in rivers such as the Spey but we are not yet at that stage.There will be news on this in due course.

The troublesome weed

The troublesome weed

There are 3 comments for this article
  1. iain ogden at 11:01 pm

    I remember 20y ago the trouble this aquatic weed was when fishing Castle Grant and having to skate fish over its surface to land them. I also remember, back when I was a practising biologist, how completely ineffectual SEPA were in understanding basic principles.
    It looks like things have changed little. Why has it taken so long to trial the obvious? A letter in this month’s T&S demonstrates EPAs ignorance or lack of interest in angling matters and it appears that their Sc counterparts are disturbingly similar.
    It’s enough to make you tear your hair oot!
    let’s hope the Don trials are conclusive, before anglers and fresh water mussels give up all hope.

    • Brian Shaw Author at 7:15 am

      Hi Iain, looking forward to the Don trials although I have reservations about how effective it will be. It would be good to be surprised in this case. What I was surprised about was that it was still present in the Auchernack? I was under the impression it had been eradicated there.

  2. Nick Warren at 10:50 pm

    Makes perfect sense to try to eradicate it at the source, good luck

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